You can’t tell that The Tui has Landed is Jodie Shelley’s first novel. Packed with hilarity, disastrous dates, terrible pick-up lines, all cleverly wrapped up in a grittier plot, one can safely say that Jodie has safely landed on the creative firmament of Kiwi fiction writers. FARIDA MASTER talks to the local author to find out what really went behind the covers of an engaging tale of friendship, problem-gambling and revenge.
She’s all booked up!
Even while Jodie is marketing her first book, signing copies at a book launch, her second novel is being proof-read. Now that she is on a new high being the creator of a make-believe world peopled with an assortment of fun, cool, straight-laced and dark characters, she can’t stop herself.
“I’m currently working on my third book,” smiles, the executive coach by day and author by night.
How did she catch the writing bug?
Jodie says that as a young girl she was a poet in the making. She even opted for a course in freelance writing but it was an Instagram Live series delivered by author Marian Keyes on, ‘How to write a novel’ that helped the aspiring poet and writer discover there were lots of stories in her, waiting to be told.
All she needed was a challenge to pick up on an innocuous sentence and write 500 words on it. Her pickup line was: The doughnuts had failed to de-escalate the situation’.
“I applied that line and used it for a disciplinary meeting. Having worked in human resources for 20 years, that came easy!” she smiles.
Five hundred words later as Jodie wrote with ease about the scenario where the doughnuts didn’t have the desired impact on a formal disciplinary meeting in which a key character was about to be fired from her job – she discovered a starting point for her debut novel.
The essay defined her destiny!
Words flowed, characters came alive, and the plot thickened as she promised herself that she’d commit to writing 500 words each night after her young son went to bed. She soon realised that the creative process had a life of its own as it flowed into a captivating and lively adventure of friendship, justice, and dating all the wrong people!
Does Jodie have a funny bone?
The Sunnyhill resident laughs out loud saying, “My husband and had it written in our marriage vows that a day without laughter is a day wasted. I love a good laugh.”
It’s easy to tell. Writing humorously is tough but this author makes it seem effortless.
Revealing where she got some of her brilliant wit from, Jodie says that since 1999 she’d maintained a booklet.
“I used to write down any funny story, jokes, real life silly things that happened to friends and work colleagues, things that made me giggle.”
It proved to be valuable fodder for the page-turner.
She acknowledges her hilarious colleagues over the years for sharing without a doubt, the utterly best stories and one-liners. The best each year were recorded for posterity in an annual publication creatively title, The Book.
Also, some of the best insights came from researching online dating sites and chat rooms, crazy outfits and deviant bedroom behaviour, she says.
“In our writing workshop Marian told us to build characters that were not like ordinary women, and should have a voice of their own. She asked us to list twenty different qualities and characteristics about each character that we could build on.”
Did she fall in love with any of the characters?
Jodie admits that she identifies with Isabella in HR but has a big soft corner for Stone, the gentle giant. “I also admire Anahera for her courage and am very fond of Koro,” she reflects. “I was so connected to the characters that I felt compelled to write an epilogue explaining what happened to them, after the book ended. I needed closure,” she laughs.
“Then, the other day a friend who read the book said you better write another book on what happened to them in the end,” she says relishing every bit of the feedback.
No rejection letter for this author!
Interestingly, the new author didn’t get the novel published by a traditional publisher. Instead she cut to the chase by engaging directly with The CopyPress in Nelson to produce the book.
“I was too curious about the process and didn’t want to slow things down by submitting my manuscript around to various publishers. At least I can say I’ve never had a rejection letter from a publishing house!”
Something not many authors can brag about!